TULSA — Tahlequah dominated from start to end and wiped away Tulsa Nathan Hale, 61-6, Friday at Tulsa Will Rogers High School.
The Tigers, who scored the first 47 points and led 47-6 at halftime, improved to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in District 5A-4 under head coach Brad Gilbert.
“These young men came out and played hard,” Gilbert said. “They came out and had a good week of practice, and our focus was just on getting better. I thought we did that tonight for the most part. We did what we were supposed to do and everybody got to play.
“Our kids had fun tonight and it’s fun to be with these young men. It’s never easy to win on Friday nights. Some Friday nights might be easier than others, but these guys handled it the way they’re supposed to.”
Tahlequah did whatever it pleased against the Rangers, scoring touchdowns on the ground, through the air, defensively and on special teams.
Senior running back Malik McMurtrey, who rushed for a game-high 96 yards on just seven carries, returned the opening kickoff 71 yards for a touchdown to set the tone. McMurtrey later had a 21-yard touchdown run at 9:12 point of the first quarter to give the Tigers a 13-0 lead.
Senior quarterback Tyler Joice threw three touchdown passes to three different receivers and completed 7 of 9 pass attempts for 92 yards. Joice connected with Coda Bunch for 11 yards, Race Stopp for 20 yards and Dylan Leep for 21 yards to extend Tahlequah’s lead to 33-0.
The Tigers’ defense scored twice on interception returns. Leep had a 42-yard return for a score, and Bodee Jimmerson added the game’s final points on a 15-yard return.
Tahlequah, who closed with 310 total yards of offense, also had a 4-yard touchdown run from Darryn Spahr and a 29-yard scoring run from Josh Munoz.
Defensively, the Tigers, who started six sophomores, limited the Rangers to 107 total yards, 2.2 yards per play, forced six punts and forced two turnovers.
The only negatives were the same mistakes the Tigers have struggled with over the course of the season. They committed nine penalties and at times still had issues with bad snaps from center.
“It’s still the little things that’s a concern,” Gilbert said. “Those things are going to hurt us in big ball games. Obviously we’ve got a big game next week with Sapulpa coming to town, so we’ve got to continue to get better and clean those things up. We’ve got to continue to address those things.”
Munoz finished with 35 rushing yards on three carries, Spahr followed with 29 on four attempts, and Josh Richardson added 20 yards on five carries. Stopp led all THS receivers with four receptions and 65 yards, while Jacob Morrison had two catches for 14 yards. Backup quarterback Brody Younger completed 3 of 6 passes for 44 yards.
The Tigers host Sapulpa in a 7 p.m. kickoff at Doc Wadley Stadium Friday, Oct. 8. Sapulpa (3-2, 1-1) suffered a 43-13 loss to Collinsville Friday.